When We Teach Only Love

Each of us can make a difference
When we teach only love, not fear
When we put an end to indifference and
When we let go of selfish needs

Each of us can make a difference
When we teach only love
When we awaken each day
By showing each other the way

Each of us can make a difference
When we teach only love
When we commit ourselves to have a heart
That beats only with compassion
Where caring for one another becomes
Our only passion

Each of us can make a difference
When we teach only love
When giving, kindness, patience, gratitude
And tenderness are the way that we pray

When Love and Forgiveness become
Our song of the day
Each of us can make a difference
When we teach only love
When everything we think, say, and do
Becomes our gift of love to God

Each of us can make a difference
When we teach only love
When we commit our lives to joy
When we commit our hearts to peace

Each of us can make a difference
When we teach only love

- Gerald G. Jampolsky (1924-)

The Gray Whale

Before the advent of motorized sailing vessels,
it is believed that certain species of whales could
communicate across the hemispheres.


We climb to there, to what seems
only rock or rubble from a distance.
My friends want to play,
but I'm new to the coast, still afraid
of what comes with the waves, undulating--
the long strands of kelp, sea palms
and weeds, whatever curls in on itself.

It must have known it could not go back
to fluid motion and grace, even as it
rose from the deep, gave its bulk to the tide.
I was inland when it beached. I didn't witness
the passage of breath, the souvenir hunters,
the mourners. My friends saw
the helicopter lifting it in pieces.

No one warned me about this.
Above the sea now, it bakes in the sun
--flesh gone to the air, the rest
growing into the earth. We walk
the length of the spine in our small shoes,
we touch the stumps of its bones, we circle
the jaw, we give away our words.

I am nothing when I stand inside its head.

Santa Cruz, CA


The fisherman stands far out on the rocks.
He is past the cove and we're just two women
who haven't learned the ocean. We watch him
cast and cast again through our binoculars
--his rod glints, the rocks glisten,
waves fall and fall on each other.
This once was a whaling station. We came looking
for spouts, but find only a man fishing morning away.

When he waves his arms, we think he has fallen or is
trapped by the tide. The speck of him grows in our glasses.
He waves, and we follow a path along the spine of the cliff
past allysum and poppy, foam and crash of surf.
The wind whips our hair, our feet rattle stones
--past thorn and stubble of grass-- the sea
booms against the rocks as we go to save the fisherman.

When we stand above him, we still don't see.
He cups his hands and shout, but the wind
takes his voice. Then he points to the water
below us. It rises, gray
mottled skin. It heaves its weight up.
Side and fluke. Eye. It dives and explodes again.
It grazes the rocks. Dives and rises again
-- the sea churning, the wind blowing,
the four of us joined each time in the air.

Davenport Landing, CA


Gale winds for a week. Now a drizzle
settles the sea and our rented boat
throbs over the bar, out of the harbor.
Binoculars and cameras hanging from our necks,
we pretend to be experts, not eager
for bubbles, for spouts, for seabirds flying low.

They are here, they are waiting.
They listen to out chatter, our jokes and our laughter.
Their shadows drift under the hull.

Now they rise to port, to port.
Now giants, now monsters

spangled with barnacles, five dancers leaping in unison
--buffalo, tiger, whatever has left us--
hill and rock, curve and sway of the universe.

Loop and slide of the dream, rolling over
and under, beside us, in front.
They touch. Body and drum, they sigh.
From the mouth of the Mad
to the mouth of the Eel River, past Table Bluff.

This we have lost.
All this, forgotten.

Eureka, CA

- Judith Minty


How can he dare cross me,
this oozing, footless tube,
lifting his alert pronged head
in the cuckold's gesture?

Long ago his nation
cast off the security of shells
and now go proudly naked
relying for safety
on the realpolitik
of sheer slug numbers.

Clearly he glories
in each nuance of slug calligraphy,
those sly paths of silver
that chronicle the progress
of appetite, and answer
the urgent appeals of the rain.

Perhaps he incarnates
the slug king of legend
who lay for seven days and seven nights
besotted in a saucer of beer
but did not drown
and who, by this test,
won his dappled queen
and with her dangled upside down
on a glittering rope
of commingled slime
convulsed and tranquil
as a hypnotist's pendulum.

Then together they passed
through the exorcist's circles
of slug bait unharmed
and will feast forever
on trilliums and tulips

if I choose to stay my foot.

I don't, but stand a moment musing,
their sticky deaths the mucilage
holding me earthbound
by all that is once

most vulnerable
most destructive.

- Gwen Head ()


Sometimes things don't go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don't fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A poeple sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they can't leave some stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

- Sheenagh Pugh (1950-)

Young and Old

When all the world is young, lad,
And all the trees are green,
And every goose a swan, lad,
And every lass a queen;
Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
And round the world away,
Young blood must have its course, lad,
And every dog his day.

When all the world is old, lad,
And all the trees are brown;
And all the sport is stale, lad,
And all the wheels run down;
Creep home, and take your place there,
The spent and maimed among:
God grant you find one face there,
You loved when all was young.

- Charles Kingsley (1819-1875)

Music of Spheres

He was walking a frozen road
in his pocket iron keys were jingling
and with his pointed shoe absent-mindedly
he kicks the cylinder
of an old can
which for a few seconds rolled its cold emptiness
wobbled for a while and stopped
under the sky studded with stars.

- Jean Follain (1903-1971)


the difference between you and me
is as I bent over strangers toilet bowls,
the face that glared back at me
in these sedentary waters
was not my own,
but my mother's
brown head floating in a soap pool
of crystalline whiteness

she taught me how to clean
to get down on my hands and knees
and scrub, not beg

she taught me how to clean,
not live in this body

my reflection has always been
once removed.

- Cherrie Moraga (1952-)

The Potter

Your whole body has
a fullness or a gentleness destined for me.

When I move my hand up
I find in each place a dove
that was seeking me, as
if they had, love, made you of clay
for my own potter's hands.

Your knees, your breasts,
your waist
are missing parts of me like the hollow
of a thirsty earth
from which they broke off
a form,
and together
we are complete like a single river,
like a single grain of sand.

- Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)

Slum Lords

The superrich make lousy neighbors—
they buy a house and tear it down
and build another, twice as big, and leave.
They're never there; they own so many
other houses, each demands a visit.
Entire neighborhoods called fashionable,
bustling with servants and masters, such as
Louisburg Square in Boston or Bel Air in L.A.,
are districts now like Wall Street after dark
or Tombstone once the silver boom went bust.
The essence of superrich is absence.
They like to demonstrate they can afford
to be elsewhere. Don't let them in.
Their riches form a kind of poverty.

- John Updike (1932-2009)


to reach here
gliding into old age
the decades gone
without ever meeting one person
truly evil
without ever meeting one person
truly exceptional
without ever meeting one person
truly good

gliding into old age

the mornings are the worst.

-Charles Bukowski (1920-1994)

Walking Across the Atlantic

I wait for the holiday crowd to clear the beach
before stepping onto the first wave.

Soon I am walking across the Atlantic
thinking about Spain,
checking for whales, waterspouts.

I feel the water holding up my shifting weight.
Tonight I will sleep on its rocking surface.

But for now I try to imagine what
this must look like to the fish below,
the bottoms of my feet appearing, disappearing.

-Billy Collins (1941-)

Hegel for Dummies

working by day, school at night
(though more cafeteria than class)
I didn't know... had not seen
"choice" taxidermied into trophy--
our wild dreams, cascades of complaints
(male chauvinist pigs, bourgeois privilege,
TV-watching pathetic parents)
heady delusional, talk of revolution
-- we read Baldwin Ginsberg Malcolm Che
Millett Leary Laing and Plath--
the sparkle of the not-yet
beckoned big: if it exists, it stinks

years morphed into decades
scrambling codes, perfect night rides
windows down, wind in our hair
car lapping up the road
carapace of community
living in the center, Manhattan downtown
round-the-clock friends, sex, music, drugs
demonstrations, midnight feasts in Chinatown
after double bills of French film
evenings of art --Met or LaMama--
leaning over the spiral balcony
at the Guggenheim (giant flower pot)
listening to Charlotte Moorman
play cello (topless) while someone read Artaud

when what was really happening...

- Dion Farquhar

Proletarian Portriat

A big bareheaded woman
in an apron

Her hair slicked back standing
on the street

One stockinged foot toeing
the sidewalk

Her shoe in her hand. Looking
intently into it

She pulls out the paper insole
to find the nail

That has been hurting her

- William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

Black Islands

for Darío

At Isla Negra,
between Neruda's tomb
and the anchor in the garden,
a man with stonecutter's hands
lifted up his boy of five
so the boy's eyes could search mine.
The boy's eyes were black olives.
Son, the father said, this is a poet,
like Pablo Neruda.
The boy's eyes were black glass.
My son is called Darío,
for the poet of Nicaragua,
the father said.
The boy's eyes were black stones.
The boy said nothing,
searching my face for poetry,
searching my eyes for his own eyes.
The boy's eyes were black islands.

- Martin Espanda (1957)